Research into alternatives to animal testing receives a boost

By Redazione

The European Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (COLIPA) has called for research and development (R&D) into replacements for animal testing ahead of the EU ban on animal tested
ingredients in 2009.

Pledging ?2.5 million over a period of three years, COLIPA is calling for research proposals into chemical induced skin sensitivity: the potential of certain chemicals to elicit allergic
responses on contact with the skin.

The industry association hopes the research will lead to ‘in-vitro’ (test tube) models based on human skin cells that could predict the potential of a future ingredient to induce an allergic
response (allergic contact dermatitis) in consumers.

The move comes in response to EU legislation, including the chemicals legislation known as REACH. The new regulations will place a ban on the testing of cosmetics ingredients on animals after
2009, whilst requiring 12,000 chemicals which are already on the market to be tested for skin irritancy and allergy.

COLIPA is currently funding many projects into skin sensitisation, and participating in the EU-funded Sens-it-iv project. The ‘Novel Testing Strategies for in vitro Assessment of Allergens’
project aims to develop ‘in vitro’ alternatives to animal testing.

Funded for five years with ?11 million, the project brings together 28 universities, research institutes, private and public sector organizations. The aim is to deliver in-vitro tests or test
strategies to test chemical compounds on their potential to induce allergies.

Currently, little is known about the mechanism through which chemical allergens induce allergic contact dermatitis in humans. Sens-it-iv is focusing on the effect that the allergens have on
dendritic cells, cells of the body’s immune system, in the hope that one day these cells may be incorporated into a predictive test for assessing a chemical’s allergenic potential.

According to the project partners, ‘the successful project outcome will contribute to a reduction in the number of animals required for safety testing and the establishment of more accurate
tools for product development. Thus, the project will be of substantial benefit to all European citizens and will enhance the competitiveness of European industry.’

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